Closed Business Leaves Customers Waiting Weeks for Refunds

Within weeks of reporting Service America had closed its doors, the NBC 6 Responds unit received phone calls and emails from frustrated homeowners who said they didn't get a refund they were promised and couldn't get answers from the company.

Homeowner Carol Stein was one of those customers. For 30 years she has lived in the same home and for decades she has been with the same home warranty company.

"At the cost of repairs for appliances and air conditioners, it was worth having it and we have always had it," Stein told us.

When it came time to renew her home warranty policy with Service America, she paid $585 for two more years of coverage. Weeks later, she says she got a letter from the company announcing it was closing.

"My first thought was, wait a minute, I just paid for this for two years," she said.

The letter read in part, "…the portion of your premium that has not been earned will be returned to you, per the terms of your plan."

But a month later when a check still hadn't arrived, Stein said she got worried. When she called the company, she says she didn't get an answer.

"(The recording) said all the representatives were busy to please hold and I thought 'Oh great maybe somebody is there.' So I held and I held. After about 15 minutes I just figured this isn't working and I hung up and that was the end of that," Stein said.

Service America Customer Mike Ryan says he got stuck on hold too.

"I was actually on hold for about three hours," he told us.

Ryan called the company when his $660 refund didn't arrive.

"I didn't realize there was that music playing the background as I was working and I finally realized that that 800-number wasn't being answered any longer," Ryan told us.

Both Stein and Ryan went looking for answers online. They found an NBC 6 Responds story about the company shutting down and called us for help.

We emailed the company's chief operating officer, Ken Stoll. He had been our contact when we resolved previous customer issues. We asked him why Stein, Ryan, and three other NBC 6 viewers hadn't received their refund checks.

We received this email back from Stoll:

"As you are aware, Service America Enterprise has spent the last few months winding-down its operations. Throughout the process, our top priorities have been our employees and our customers, many of whom have been with Service America (as either employee or customer) for several years. With respect to our customers, we have attempted to do the right thing every step of the way, and that has included sending refund checks to all customers with service contracts. To the best of our knowledge, refund checks have, in fact, been sent to all customers with service contracts, including the customers listed in your e-mail below. Of course, we remain committed to doing the right thing, so any customer who has not received a refund check may contact me directly at KStoll@serviceamerica.com, and if a replacement check needs to be issued, it most certainly will be issued. With respect to the customers identified in your e-mail below, my staff will contact them immediately."

Within weeks all of the NBC 6 viewers who reached out to us received their refund checks.

"I had actually counted it as lost funds so it was really great to get it back," Ryan told us.

Stein told us she is happy to have her money back so she can start looking for a new home warranty company.

"Right now I am not doing anything about it. If have a problem I will have to find a good service company," she said.